Thursday, August 5

‘I’ve seen a heron, a deer, a hare …’ Lock garden transformations from The Guardian readers | Gardens


‘The pond has become a haven for wildlife’

With time on my hands for the past 14 months, and with a growing sense that we need to nurture and support the environment, we set out to create a more productive garden for wildlife. We dug a large wildlife pond, planted it with native species, and lined it with repurposed rocks from an old rockery. The rubble heap has been formed and planted with wildflower seeds and grass for wildlife to enjoy. The pond has become a haven for dragonflies and damselflies, diving beetles, frogs, toads, birds and other animals – so far we have seen a hopeful heron, a duck, a deer and a hare. It is a very quiet place to sit and think. Catherine Woolfe, Marketing Director, Bedfordshire

‘I planted until it felt like a sanctuary’

Ericka Medina's patio, inspired by Japanese and English gardens.
Ericka Medina’s patio, inspired by Japanese and English gardens. Photography: Ericka Medina

My little backyard has always been a toilet for my two dachshunds and is covered in weeds. The fence was in ruins, and because a missing septic system was too close to the surface, we couldn’t grow grass. The center of the courtyard was a large patch of earth; after the rain, it turned to mud. Last year, I decided to renovate our garden and turn it into a small haven, taking inspiration from Japanese and English gardens. I created “implicit” walkways for Japanese gardens, brought river rocks, and planted vegetables and flowers to attract pollinators. I added some solar lights and a container pond. I cut, sanded, stained and planted until my garden felt like a sanctuary. Ericka Medina, PhD candidate, New York

‘It has been a cathartic experience’

Robin Clague has created a new seating area in his garden in Morecambe.
Robin Clague has created a new seating area in his garden in Morecambe. Photography: Robin Clague

This was a project that began at the beginning of the pandemic. The garden walls and fence were in bad shape, shrubs and rockery plants in the wrong place, and the garden views over Morecambe Bay were not being used to our advantage. I removed most of it, flattened the rockery, and added plants to give it a Mediterranean flair. A small orchard and a seating area complete the garden. It has been a cathartic experience and it is doing wonders for my well-being. Robin Clague, Retired Gardener, Morecambe, Lancashire

‘I have instituted an’ everything grows’ policy

Peter Spring's lawn is now a haven for wildflowers and insects
The longest lawn in Peter Spring is a haven for wildflowers and insects. Photography: Peter Spring

Last year, I noticed the bees gathering on the clover in my garden. So this year, I left most of the grass to grow and I have not only clover but lots of wildflowers. Across the garden, I have instituted an “everything grows” policy, which has proven very popular with insects, especially bumblebees. We have an active colony of white-tailed bumblebees, whose entrance is under a railway sleeper around one edge. I am amazed at how many of the so-called weeds, if allowed to grow, produce vibrant, small, jewel-like flowers of remarkable intensity. Peter Spring, retired, London

‘I am proud of the transformation’

The transformed garden of Heidi Fitchett's apartment in London
The transformed garden of Heidi Fitchett’s flat in London. Photography: Heidi Fitchett

When we moved into a flat in Battersea in the summer of 2019, having outdoor space was a huge plus. My gardening skills still have a lot of room for improvement, but I am proud of the transformation and the garden has kept me sane for 16 months of working from home. Thanks to my dad for leaving a lot of compost bags! Heidi Fitchett, attorney, London

‘The garden had come to represent my state of mind’

Philly's Bath garden is now a place of joy
Philly’s Bath garden is now a place of joy. Photograph: Philadelphia

Before the first confinement, it was everywhere. There were long periods without leaving the house, without inviting people because I felt so anxious, and the festering garden behind my flat had come to represent my state of mind. During the confinement, I went to stay with my parents, who live in a house so full of nature, brightness and light that it brought me back to life. When I returned home, my mind became clearer and the garden became a place of great joy. The transformation of both me and the garden has been so extreme that one day a neighbor told me: “The garden looks very good. You should have seen it before you moved in. It was absolutely disgusting! “I said that I agreed, but that she was also the disgusting garden woman. Philadelphia Bath

‘It feels like a secret garden’

Judith's Shady Garden
Judith’s shady garden is surrounded by houses, but it feels private. Photography: Judith

Last spring, my husband and I decided to renovate a small garden that we hadn’t used for 20 years. It was overgrown, but we were determined to keep it as the wildlife refuge it had become. It is now fully booked and a lovely place to sit, especially on warm nights with the fairy lights twinkling. Despite being surrounded by houses, it gives us privacy and the feeling of being in the countryside. We have hung bird feeders, incorporated insect habitats, used old tree trunks as features, and installed a small tin bathing pond. The garden is shaded so finding the right plants has been a challenge; ferns seem to work well. I was working for the NHS during the first wave of the pandemic, so the project was a welcome distraction, resulting in a quiet place to be. It was very necessary. Judith occupational therapist, London

‘Our closing project was a’ bathroom annex ”

Diane McHugh's new project means family and friends avoid walking around the house.
Diane McHugh’s new project means family and friends avoid walking around the house. Photography: Diane McHugh

The Bimble Inn, my shed pub, is a labor of love. The pub shed itself was built four years ago, but our closing project was a “bathroom annex” to avoid the walk around the house. It has been a blessing during the pandemic. When we walk the few steps from our house to the garden, we feel like we are really going out. Friday nights were still a night to wait, and it’s probably better stocked with beer, wine, and spirits than many actual pubs and restaurants. Once they were allowed to visit, our family and friends enjoyed it too. Diane McHugh, retired civil servant, Liverpool

‘Working in the garden with my brother was a bonding experience’

Phil Jones' Wooden Garden.
Phil Jones’ Wooden Garden. Photography: Phil Jones

I bought some clematis ‘Taiga’ last July but had nowhere to put them. The garden looked drab and I wanted interesting colors, bees, and lots of flowers. I was hampered by a tiny lawn and a limited budget, but I had energy and a few tools. Having spent too much on plants in the past, I resolved to grow my own this time and started last September. This allowed me to spend the money on some more affordable and less bulky treated wood carcasses than railroad ties, while still achieving a similar look. This part of the project was mainly done with my brother, which was a nice bonding experience. Covid reminded me how lucky I was to have a garden. Phil Jones, caretaker, london

‘Working from home has become more enjoyable’

Rachel's Marrakech-inspired garden patio.
Rachel’s Marrakech-inspired garden patio. Photography: Rachel

Inspired by the Majorelle Garden In Marrakech, we painted the walls of our little patio a deep sky blue. We had a wisteria that was squashed in the corner, but now it’s scattered on the wall. Before the leaves came out, the branches looked like a sculpture. Now it looks incredibly lush. I am growing hot pink petunias and peas, which look fabulous against blue walls, and have grown dahlias for the first time. The patio faces north so I had to move the plants because the sun has risen in recent months. This means that I now know where the sun shines practically every hour of the day. Raquel doctor, Manchester

‘Our pandemic garden is full of bees’

Elke Heckel's Coastal Front Garden.
Elke Heckel’s Coastal Front Garden. Photography: Elke Heckel

Our front garden faces southwest, and although it is very sunny, it is often windswept, and salt and sand are washed away by the sea. I have killed quite a few plants in my time, so I decided to see what works well in other similarly situated gardens and start planting in the spring. We buy plants, compost and seeds, and we cover the area with cardboard to eliminate weeds. Our pandemic garden is full of bees and it has given us and passersby great joy. This year is even better than last, and we delight in two echiums, which remind me of California. Another plant that I am happy with is a euphorbia that they gave me 15 years ago as a seedling. She survived neglect and three moves, and is now settling into her new home. It has been a pleasure to sit in the doorway with a drink, watching the constant changes in the garden. Every Heckel, retired midwife, Ramsgate, Kent


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